Oct 5, 2016

The Golden Hour

Rich sunset over San Diego Mountains.
The Golden hour makes for Golden Sunsets 

That right there is one hell of a picture wouldn't you say?  Honestly, I am a terrible photographer. Even in this day and age when you would think no-one can take a bad photo, I manage to succeed at just that about 80% of the time. It's quite extraordinary really.

But what I lack in skill I make up for in sheer volume! I take pictures as if the world will end tomorrow and the only surviving account of what happened here will undoubtedly be the photos I've been taking with my Galaxy Note 4.  It adds an element of excitement to the whole thing.  I would say that I have collected somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 thousand photographs, almost all of which are stored in the cloud.

Data charges? Oh don't worry on that account. I scored a Terabyte of free data from Google for being a level 4 Local Guide (you don't want to know) and Flickr gives away another TB to new subscribers. So believe me when I say data storage is not an issue.

The photograph above, was taken a little below Mount Woodson, a quite famous hiking trail in Poway California. The timing of the photograph is what I would like to discuss in more depth however.

Up until a few years ago I had never heard of 'the golden hour' or 'the magic hour' as it is also called. This wondrous phenomenon has captivated me recently I have made deliberate attempts over the last few days to take advantage of the unique light that is produced during such hours. Essentially, the golden hour is a period of time just after sunrise and before sunset, when the Sun's  altitude is particularly low and its light passes through the atmosphere at a certain angle.

Small wooden Buddha statue in golden hour reddish light.
My little Buddha loves the Golden Hour 

The low angle forces the sunlight to pass through more layers of the atmosphere. This turns the light into a deep reddish color that the human eye finds particlarly appealing.

The golden hour also makes for long shadows, and the soft natural lighting bids 'hello' and 'adieu' to the earth in a way nothing short of glorious.

Sand glistens in the foreground with a setting sun in the background.
The sands at Torrey Pines State Beach

Amazingly, people look better during the golden hour as well. The soft lighting lends a glow to human skin that is quite attractive. Funny enough, If you notice the skin color and tone of TV personalities in the news or otherwise, I think you will find that the makeup, lighting, and overall look attempts to emulate how they might naturally look like during the golden hour.

A man looks toward the setting sun, his face reddened by golden hour sunlight.
Even I look better during the Golden Hour

It is always a bit of a shock seeing movie stars in real life.  They never appear as attractive as they do on television, but I bet if you saw them during the golden hour the hue of their skin might much more closely resemble what you're seeing on your TV.

The setting sun colors over the San Diego landscape.
Golden Hour over Lake Poway

If you would like to take advantage of this natural lighting there are quite a few apps you can use that will tell you exactly when the golden hour is given the time of year and your relative position on the earth. Personally, I use Exsate Golden Hour a free app that I find quite capable:

A screen depicting time of day, golden hour and blue hours.
Exsate Golden Hour

The Golden hour is just another example of a natural time in this world that many of us have forgotten, or worse not learned about at all.  There is indeed a reason it is refereed to as 'The Magical Hour.'  It is indeed a form a magic, and one that we have a opportunity to take notice of and honor.

I've been going on and on about how we might be able to regain a connection to the terrestrial and celestial world all around us. Perhaps recognizing The Golden Hour represents one of the most practical and functional ways of doing just that.

The sun burns brightly orange as it descends below the ocean.
Golden Sundown

By the way, not a single picture featured in this post has been altered or edited in any way save for cropping. That in itself speaks to the amazing quality of the golden hour.


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